France #5: Adventures in Arles

Sammy  ’25, recounts a relaxing and fun weekend with his host family.

After an arduous week containing several back-to-back, tiring days paired with below-optional amounts of sleep each night, I seized upon my first opportunity to sleep in when the weekend finally arrived, and deactivated my daily 8 am alarm. After coming back to consciousness at 1:30 pm today, I realized with a jolt that I had completely missed the world famous Saturday morning Arles market. The very market that I was supposed to experience and blog about. I hope to get another chance at the market but I still got the opportunity to eat some paella, a delicious blend of chicken, shrimp, and mussels on yellow rice. Then, because most of my homestay family was away at Malone’s–my host brother’s–judo tournament, I read the comic adaptation of Dune that I bought earlier in an Arlesian comic book store. After finishing the beautifully illustrated novel, I proceeded to write in my journal, comparing the conversations I have had with my homestay family on the differences between France and the US. I ended up using the AP French cultural comparison section. I never thought I would find myself thanking the College Board, but those cultural comparisons I did were eerily similar to the dinner time conversations I’m having. 

Theo–my eldest host-brother–was the only other one home, and when his friends came over, I hung out with them a bit before they all had to leave for their ticketing job at tonight’s concert. Then, I played a board game called Carcassonne, first with Malone and then Armel–the youngest child–who both flagrantly cheated. However, I could not get mad at either of them, they’re so funny and remind me of when I would play board games with my cousins. In this case however, I actually enjoyed playing games with these two scamps which I’m not sure my cousins would say even with the distorting lens of nostalgia. 

Afterwards, I ate a delicious dinner prepared by Aurélie–my homestay mom–including amazingly fresh tomatoes, spring rolls, and skewers. Then, Aurélie took me to the concert that Alexandre–my homestay dad–organized. He puts together concerts for a living, which is pretty cool. A nationally famous rapper, Zola–apparently self-named after the French author–was performing, and some people had shown up several hours early in their excitement. Arles concerts are held in the city’s ancient Roman theater–this city has a ton of ancient Roman stuff–with people sitting on the original steps and ancient columns illuminated by strobe lights. It was a blast, even though I didn’t know any of the songs except for one that Theo showed me the night before.